Power Rankings

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Denny Hamlin returns to No. 1 after Talladega

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The chaos of Talladega has come and gone and with the dust settling the NBC Sports Power Rankings have a familiar face at the No. 1 spot.

Denny Hamlin is back at the top of the mountain after his third-place finish in a battered No. 11 Toyota.

Hamlin returns to the top spot after previously having a five-week reign there, which ended in September.

This week’s rankings have two different ties, including a three-way tie for seventh.

Here are the power rankings ahead of this weekend’s playoff elimination race at Kansas Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC).

1. Denny Hamlin (37 points): Third-place finish gives him three top fives in the last four races. He’s surging just like he did on the last lap before Ryan Blaney broke his momentum.

2. Ryan Blaney, (34 points): Followed in Kyle Larson‘s wake as a playoff driver earning his first win of the season in the playoffs. Has three tops 10s in the playoffs

3. Chase Elliott (26 points): Like Hamlin, bounced back from a wreck to finish in the top 10, but he’s still outside a transfer spot to the next round. Likely needs to win at Kansas to stay alive in these playoffs. He won there last fall.

(tie) 4. Joey Lognao (21 points): The 18 stage points he scored at Talladega created the gap he has over those outside a playoff spot. Kudos to his team for the repairs so he could finish the race.

(tie) 4. Kyle Larson (21 points): Despite a 39th-place finish at Talladega he has eight top 10s in the last 11 races and he’s already set for the next round.

6. Kevin Harvick (20 points): Even with a 17th-place finish at Talladega, he has 10 top 10s in the last 12 races. Don’t overlook him.

(tie) 7. Martin Truex Jr. (12 points): Steak of four straight top 10s ended at Talladega. Kansas provides a chance to start a new streak for this team, which has won two of the last four races on 1.5-mile tracks.

(tie) 7. Ryan Newman (12 points): Still showing some fight despite being eliminated from playoffs. Has three top fives (none in 2018) and 12 top 10s (nine in 2018).

(tie) 7. Kyle Busch (12 points): Has had a less than stellar playoff run so far, but a strong regular season has him in position to advance to the next round.

10. Brad Keselowski (9 points): His 25th-place finish was the first time in the last five races he’s placed worse than 11th.

Others receiving votes: Aric Almirola (5 points), William Byron (4 points), Alex Bowman (3 points), Michael McDowell (3 points) and Clint Bowyer (1 point)

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NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick’s out, Martin Truex Jr. back on top

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Even though he came in second at Dover, it was enough of a performance for NBC Sports’ NASCAR writers to put Martin Truex Jr. back on top in this week’s Power Rankings.

With 37 of a maximum 40 points, Truex is once again No. 1, while last week’s top vote-getter, Kevin Harvick, falls to third place (32 points). Dover winner Kyle Larson jumps to the No. 2 spot, up from eighth last week.

Also of note, based on earning three straight top 10s for the first time since 2016, Jimmie Johnson appears in the rankings heading into Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

The biggest drop this week came from Roval winner Chase Elliott, who went from No. 3 last week to unranked after Sunday’s race at Dover.

Here are this week’s rankings:

1. Martin Truex Jr. (37 points): Consistency is his middle name. Just keeps on scoring top fives. Returns to top spot in rankings after Kevin Harvick was No. 1 in last week’s rankings. Last week: Second.

2. Kyle Larson (34 points): Gets to enjoy a stress-free Talladega after his Dover win. No other driver will feel as good this weekend. But even though he broke a 75-race winless streak and earned a berth in the Round of 8, the pressure shifts to see him win again and make it to Miami. Last week: Eighth.

3. Kevin Harvick (32 points): Fourth-place run marks his 10th top 10 in the last 11 races. That includes three wins and seven top fives. Last week: First.

4. Alex Bowman (29 points): Another strong run for the No. 88. Could he be the dark horse in the playoffs? Last week: Fifth.

5. Denny Hamlin (24 points): Dominated early at Dover before finishing fifth, primarily because he was frustrated with Joey Logano. One cause for concern, however, is that he hasn’t had consecutive top 10s since August. Last week: Tied for 10th.

6. Kyle Busch (15 points): Didn’t have a good car this weekend, got caught speeding and finished sixth. Sometimes one has to just plow through a tough weekend and he did. But there is cause for concern. He’s managed just two top 10s in the first four playoff races. Last week: Tied for 10th.

7. Brad Keselowski (13 points): Failed to finish in the top five for the first time in the playoffs, capping off an unremarkable weekend for this team. Last week: Fourth.

8. Clint Bowyer (12 points): Earned sixth top 10 in the last seven races. Still plugging away. These playoffs haven’t been easy for him but he’s still alive. Last week: Sixth.

9. Jimmie Johnson (8 points): Earned a third straight top 10 for the first time this year. Even though Johnson hasn’t won in his last 89 starts, it’s clear this team is getting better. Last week: Unranked.

10. Matt DiBenedetto (6 points): Earned his seventh top 10 of the season. Given the right circumstances, potentially could steal a playoff race win. Last week: Unranked.

Others receiving votes: Chase Elliott (4 points), William Byron (3 points), Cole Custer (3 points).

Joey Logano’s reign continues atop NBC Sports Power Rankings

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You like chaos in your superspeedway racing?

Daytona International Speedway delivered Sunday with a backup performance from Mother Nature to provide one of the most unexpected winners in NASCAR history in Justin Haley.

As a result, there are four new drivers in the top 10 of this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

The chaos also resulted in Joey Logano keeping the No. 1 spot for the second straight week. But this time the Team Penske driver is the unanimous pick.

1. Joey Logano (40 votes): Despite being involved in the 18-car wreck, Logano won a stage and kept his points lead. Last week: 1st

2. Kyle Busch (30 points): Was the only driver in the top 10 in points to finish in the top 15 at Daytona. Last week:   4th

3. Martin Truex Jr. (27 points): After three straight top 10s, had a slight bump in the road by finishing 22nd after a wreck. Now on to Kentucky where he is the two-time defending winner. Last week (2nd)

4. William Byron (23 points): Career-high runner-up finish was something to celebrate but to be so close to a win was a bit agonizing. Last week: Not ranked

5. Jimmie Johnson (22 points): After two consecutive top fives, Kentucky will be a good barometer for the No. 48 team. Last week: ties for 9th

6. Ross Chastain (19 points): His redemption story continues with his second career Xfinity win. Last week: (Unranked)

7. Denny Hamlin (11 points): Another solid showing at Daytona before being involved in the big wreck. Last week: 8th

8. Ryan Newman (10 points): Has three top 10s in the last four races and earned his first top five since 2017. Last week: Unranked.

9. Justin Haley (8 points): Finished second in Friday’s Xfinity race before pit strategy and a lightning strike helped give the 20-year-old driver his first Cup win in surprising fashion. Last week: Unranked

10. Ryan Blaney (6 points): Can’t seem to catch a break on the superspeedways. Has DNFs in last three Daytona starts. Last Week: 5th

Others receiving votes: Ty Dillon, Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola (4 votes each), Brad Keselowski (3 votes) and Corey LaJoie (2 votes).

NBC Power Rankings heading to Martinsville

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For the third time in the last four weeks Kyle Busch is the unanimous No. 1 pick in the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Busch made history last weekend at Auto Club Speedway, earning the 200th win of his NASCAR career across all three major series. With the three-race West Coast swing now in its rearview mirror, NASCAR heads to the series’ shortest track, the .526-mile Martinsville Speedway.

Making the biggest jump in this week’s rankings were Team Penske teammates Brad Keselowski (seventh to fourth) and Ryan Blaney (ninth to sixth). The biggest drop was Martin Truex Jr., who fell to seventh from second.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings look:

1. Kyle Busch (40 points): The King of the sport at this point. In 10 national series starts this year, he has six wins and two runner-up finishes and has not finished lower than sixth in any race. Last week: 1st.

2. Joey Logano (35 points): Two top-two finishes during West Coast swing plus a 10th at Phoenix. Only Kyle Busch scored more points than Logano during the three-race swing. Last week: 3rd.

3. Kevin Harvick (30 points): Hasn’t led any laps since Las Vegas, but has finished fourth three times since Daytona. Last week: 5th.

4. Brad Keselowski (29 points): Rebounded from a dismal Phoenix race to lead 42 laps and place third at Fontana. His four races since Daytona have included three finishes in top three. Last week: 7th.

5. Kurt Busch (22 points): Four consecutive top 10s but has failed to make the final round of qualifying in the last three races. That’s contributed to him having only four stage points in that time. Last week: 4th.

6. Ryan Blaney (17 points): He is nipping at the heels of his powerhouse Penske teammates. Could he join Logano and Keselowski with a playoff berth with a win at Martinsville? Last week: 9th.

7. Martin Truex Jr. (16 points): Talk about consistency: Truex has finished second, eighth, second and eighth in his last four starts. Last week: 2nd.

8. Denny Hamlin (12 points): Still has not finished worse than 11th this season. Last week: 6th.

9. Aric Almirola (10 points): Just keeps clicking off top 10s. That’s four in a row for him. Now has nine top 10s (including a win last fall at Talladega) in his last 11 starts. Last week: 8th.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (5 points): Even though he finished 14th at Fontana, his second-worst showing of the season, again receives major points for displaying grit and sheer will. Climbs back into the top 10 after dropping out last week.

Others receiving votes: Austin Dillon (2 points), Kyle Larson (1 point), Chase Elliott (1 point).